Monday, April 16, 2012

I did find it funny, not so much sad

Yes it's a review of three year old Madworld for the Nintendo Wii. When it came out last millennium in 2009, the middling reviews and the overt attempt at being 'mature' put us off. Until we found it for sale for £2.50. At that price we don't care if it is shit.

But it isn't shit. It is actually quite good. It is a very inspired title. By that we mean it's probably easier to explain the game to you in the media that has 'inspired' it. Take the aesthetic from Sin City, and the plots from Escape from L.A. (or Batman Arkham city for our younger readers), The Running Man, Manhunt and a splash of No More Heroes. Allow to rest and then whisk in mechanics and directly lift at least one boss character from Devil May Cry. Add a couple of levels on a bike from Final Fantasy VII, throw in a Caddyshack reference and a level that rips off Star Wars. If you are going to lean on source material, they could have chosen worse sources of inspiration I guess.

You play as Jack, complete with a foldable arm mounted chainsaw arm, who has arrived on an Varrigan City which has been cut off from the rest of the world and turned into a city wide arena for a brutal competition of DeathWatch games. There's some hockum about a virus as well but you don't need to know that. Jack must then punch, chainsaw and QTE his way to be the top ranked Deathwatch contestant to fulfil his own personal aims. 

The game is a lot of fun and it took us about 14 hours to get through, taking our time over some areas. You move through Varrigan City and each area has a theme. It starts of with a fairly standard street area, through Asian Town a Halloween castle and then on to UFO inspired 'Area 66'. Each region has three areas in it with two as arena to brawl through and a boss level at the end. The bosses make what can be slogging through impaling lesser dudes worthwhile and we even got stuck on one (in a good way) for too long than we'd like to admit. Some of the QTEs, particularly in the boss fights, seem to be a bit generous in interpreting waggling but most of the time they have you mimetically matching on screen actions which works much better than just straight forward button QTEs which can take your focus off of what's happening in the background.

In order to progress through each area you need to hit a score to unlock various events until the final boss challenge is opened. You could just punch a bad guy to death but if you impale them with a road sing and then slam a barrel on their head you get more points. If you then use the environment or get multiple kills at the same time the score starts to rocket. As your score grows towards the target for the end of level boss, melee weapons, environmental hazards and Bloodbath Challenges are available. Melee weapons add a bit of diversity to chainsaw kills and Bloodbath Challenges are mini games that give you a chance to rack up points. They include such challenges as Man Darts, Death Press and 'Money Shot'. Some are easy, some are more fiddly. In particular, Money Shot sees Jack having to shake up a bottle of bubbly (waggle the wiimore obviously) before jamming it into the eye of a bad guy until the bottle pops sending them flying. The idea is to get them to hit one of three spiked targets on the naughty spots of two giant naked ladies but there's more luck than judgement involved in getting them on target.

Other things the game is to be commended on is the running commentary (fuck you Bastion) which does repeat but does solicit the odd chuckle and continues into the credit sequence which is one of the most watchable credit sequences in games. The game has its own soundtrack which inoffensively goes on in the background but has lyrics all about the game! Go SEGA. On that note, every character is a potty mouth but it just about manages to hit the sweet spot along with SEGA stablemate House of the Dead Overkill in not being just outright offensive and fitting the overall setting of the game. In fact, the two games make a nice pair of fun, if shallow hammer horror games unlike any others.

There's plenty of replay value, after you beat an area you can return to it to beat high score (high scores awarded for battering bad guys in the most 'creative' of ways but which ends up boiling down to impaling them with up to 5 things, putting a barrel over their head and then throwing them into an environmental death spot be it a dumpster, spiked wall, out of the airlock or into a piranha tank) and a number of challenges open up. And this is where our biggest complaint lies, often it isn't clear what you need to do. Sometimes we are sick of the handholding in modern games but we spent over an hour in the second Halloween arena trying to work out what we needed to do 'five of' for one of the challenges. A quick gamefaq revealed the answer but  it wasn't exactly intuitive although we had some fun in that hour creatively killing foes in as many ways as possible to try to work it out. This being said, we probably won't ever wade through it again, we've seen all it has to offer and enjoyed it but a replay isn't going to add anything. 

If you can find it for less than a fiver we'd suggest giving it a go it's a couple of gaming sessions well spent and there's a multiplayer bit to it but we didn't try it out.

1 comment:

Bouncybhall said...

I adore Mad World and have probably bought fourteen copies to date (giving all but two to Wii owning friends who refused to accept that it was great). Perfect utilisation of the Wii's control scheme, the brilliant Greg Proops and the infamous John DiMaggio doing the commentary and ridiculously over the top violence that never feels overly visceral, simply comic and amusing. In some respects, shame on you for avoiding the game for so long, but in others, WELL DONE!

I'll bugger off now, but I'll leave you with this actual quote from a former colleague whom was gifted a copy from me:

"Yeah it's alright, but I really wanted to cut my own head off."

Every game has it's limits I guess.